The Soul, The Head and The Heart

October 1st, 2013

Today the New York Post published a column that I wrote on the different gifts of John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis. I would like to share it with you.

Here is an excerpt:

By common reckoning, there have been 266 popes in the 2,000-year history of the church. We’ve had some giants, and some lemons. Come to think of it, the first one, Peter, had a mixed record, one day bravely professing Jesus as the “Son of God,” but then cowardly denying Him thrice on the day Jesus needed him most.

No wonder one of the best histories of the papacy is entitled “Saints and Sinners.” Each pope has particular talents and some obvious flaws. That shouldn’t surprise us, since that is also true of each of us.

The three most recent ones, the trio most of us vividly recall, are all giants: Blessed — soon to be Saint — John Paul II (1978-2005), Benedict XVI (2005-2013) and now Francis.

A good way to understand the different gifts of each of these recent pontiffs might be to use the imagery of soulhead and heart.

You can read the whole column here.

A Good Athlete, A Good Man

September 26th, 2013

I had the pleasure of meeting pitcher David Phelps at the Yankees Homecoming Dinner in 2012.  He impressed me with his great character and faith.  I’m glad to see the National Catholic Register profile David who is a good athlete – and, more importantly, a good  man.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

David Phelps knew he was meant to marry a woman in his international relations class at the University of Notre Dame. The only problem was, that special woman was completely unaware of it.

Phelps (no relation to former longtime Notre Dame basketball coach Richard “Digger” Phelps), started off on the wrong foot with the classmate who had caught his eye. However, through prayer and humble perseverance, he eventually gained her respect and her appreciation of the Catholic faith.

Now David and Maria Phelps are happily married, with Jesus as the center of their lives. This holy cohesion provides the foundation for stable living in an oftentimes stressful job.

Click here to read the whole interview.

Analysis on Pope Francis’ Vision

September 23rd, 2013

Let me share with you one of the best analysis of Pope Francis that I have read recently. This op-ed, written by Michael Coren, was published in yesterday’s New York Daily News. Just in case you missed it, here is an excerpt:

What Francis has urged, though, is a new painting. Black and white is vital, but the true picture can only be understood through a whole variety of colors. So this is a Pope of nuance and backstory, of delicacy and empathy of delivery. Truth needs to be sung rather than shouted, and he is telling the world — and particularly those who have left the Church and those who hide behind its rules instead of being liberated by them — that while we cannot compromise on truth, we must not compromise on love.

On the gay issue, for example, we are all so much more than our sexuality, and are all supremely and superbly loved by God who is our creator. Marriage is absolute, but to dislike or even hate someone because they are gay is not only wrong, it is anti-Catholic.

Francis is clearly explaining that no gay person will give any attention to a Church that appears to close doors rather than greet newcomers. They may reject the message, but at least encourage them to hear it.

That is the papal message, and while the details are indeed difficult, the overall plot is simple and clear.

You can read the whole op-ed here.

Statement on the Pope Francis’ Recent Interview

September 19th, 2013

Today I released a statement to the press regarding the Holy Father’s recent interview in La Civiltà Cattolica and America magazine. I would like to share it with you.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 19, 2013 

CARDINAL DOLAN’S STATEMENT ON POPE FRANCIS INTERVIEW IN LA CIVILTÀ CATTOLICA  AND AMERICA MAGAZINE
 
In his interview in La Civiltà Cattolica, and America magazine, our Holy Father confirms what has been apparent during these first six months of his papacy: that he is a man who profoundly believes in the mercy of a loving God, and who wants to bring that message of mercy to the entire world, including those who feel that they have been wounded by the Church.  As a priest and bishop, I particularly welcome his reminder that the clergy are primarily to serve as shepherds, to be with our people, to walk with them, to be pastors, not bureaucrats!   It is becoming more evident every day that we are blessed with a Pope who is a good shepherd after the heart of Christ.

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Revitalizing the Church

September 13th, 2013

I recently came across this article, 10 ways to revitalize the Catholic Church, written by Fr.  I. Michael Bellafiore.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The new pope’s agenda is simple: spread the good news of Jesus Christ in a freer and more convincing way. Christ stated the church’s mission very plainly: “Go out and make disciples of all the nations.”…The church is not a spiritual McDonald’s whose success largely depends on its managers, the clergy. Paraphrasing President John Kennedy’s call to service, “Ask not what the church can do for you, but what you can do for the church.” Evangelicals and Pentecostals have much to teach Catholics in this regard. Polls show Catholics stayed away from church because they were ignored, slighted, or scandalized. Sometimes they misunderstand church teaching.  They need to know that they are missed and that the door is open for them…

Remember that being Catholic in America, or anywhere, means we can rejoice and trust Christ’s admonishment, “be not afraid.”

You can read the whole article here.

Compassion and Solidarity

September 5th, 2013

Recently I came across a well-written article in the Wall Street Journal written by Paul Moses, author and journalism professor at Brooklyn College/CUNY. Moses writes about why he remains a Catholic. (*Subscription to this article may be required).

Here is an excerpt:

Last year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation took out a full-page ad in the New York Times  and other newspapers aimed at persuading Catholics like me to “quit the Catholic Church.” Bill Keller, former editor of the Times, wrote a column in the paper urging discontented, liberal-minded Catholics: “Summon your fortitude, and just go.”

He made the suggestion in commenting on the publication of “Why Catholicism Matters” by Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, who wrote that he believes that “maybe a smaller church would be a better church.” So it’s not just liberal critics who would like to escort people like me to the exit. Some conservative Catholic leaders and pundits would too.

To me, these invitations reflect a shallow view of the Catholic Church that reduces its complex journey to the points where it intersects with the liberal social agenda. Pope Francis’ pastoral approach has shown a more merciful, less judgmental face of the church—one that always existed but needed to be more prominent in the public arena.

You can read the whole article here.

Statement of the USCCB on Pursuing Political Solution in Syria

September 5th, 2013

I would like to share with you the following press release that was issued today by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on pursuing a peaceful political solution in Syria instead of a military intervention.

CARDINAL DOLAN, BISHOP PATES URGE CONGRESS TO PURSUE POLITICAL SOLUTION IN SYRIA, NOT MILITARY OPTION

Bishops make appeal same day Pope Francis urges G20 nations to pursue peace
Affirm Congressional finding that only negotiated political settlement will work
Assure Congress of their prayers

WASHINGTON—On the same day that Pope Francis asked the G20 nations to “lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution” in Syria, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote to every member of Congress, urging them not to resort to military intervention, but instead work to end the violence in Syria through a political solution.

In their September 5 letter, Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates affirmed the finding of a proposed Congressional resolution that acknowledges that “the conflict in Syria will only be resolved through a negotiated political settlement,” and questioned military intervention. The bishops also condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, declaring these “indiscriminate weapons have no place in the arsenals of the family of nations.” They noted that more than 100,000 Syrians have lost their lives, more than 2 million have fled the country as refugees, and more than 4 million within Syria have been driven from their homes by the ongoing conflict.

“Our focus is on the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Syria and on saving lives by ending the conflict, not fueling it,” the bishops wrote. They echoed the appeals of Pope Francis and bishops in the Middle East who “have made it clear that a military attack will be counterproductive, will exacerbate an already deadly situation, and will have unintended negative consequences.”

“We ask the United States to work urgently and tirelessly with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance, and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities,” they wrote. The bishops also assured Congress of their prayers in the midst of this complex situation.

Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates wrote to President Obama September 4, also urging a political solution in Syria.

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Video from “The Colbert Report”

September 4th, 2013

Last night I appeared on Stephen Colbert’s show, “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central. Just in case you missed it, you can watch it here online by clicking on the image below.

Click here to view the video.

 

God Bless and Guide Us

September 3rd, 2013

A lot going on as we get back to routine after what I trust was a good summer, as we re-open school and so many parish programs, and as we wish our Jewish neighbors the happiest of their holy days.

Three things I especially wanted to mention to you:

For one, we’re all worried about the perilous situation in Syria and the entire tortured region of the Middle East.

You may have heard that on Sunday, at his noon Angelus address and blessing to the tens-of-thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis firmly and soundly condemned the use of gas and chemical warfare, recently and brutally unleashed in Syria, but also cautioned against any escalation in force or weaponry that would only exacerbate the already volatile situation.

When we believers are frustrated, impatient, and “don’t know what to do,” – - and we are “all of the above” when it comes to the continued turmoil in the ancient lands of the Mideast – - we pray.  That’s what the Holy Father has asked us all to do this weekend.

Our prayers are with our President and Congress as they consider the appropriate American response.  Lord knows, as the world’s major power, we do indeed have a duty to remind the nations, cogently if necessary, that certain lines of civil and inhumane behavior cannot be tolerated in the community of nations.

Of the many sane and compelling voices heard on this horror, you will not be surprised that I pay special attention to those of religious leaders, particularly the weary and anxious, yet brave pleas of the tiny, persecuted, bloodied, threatened, venerable Christian communities in Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt.  They are there, right in the midst of it, poisoned by the gas, singed by the flames, shredded by the bombs, wounded by the guns.  Just what to do they humbly admit they do not exactly know; but they sure are united on what not to do:  please, they beg, no more bombs, no more arms, no more invasions, no more violent reaction.  They deserve to be heard!

The Holy See’s ambassador to the United Nations, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, will offer the 5:30 p.m. Mass Saturday evening at the cathedral for this intention.  In response to the request of Pope Francis, I wish all our Catholic people to abstain from meat this Friday, and  add this intention to their prayers at Sunday Mass.

Two, while we will indeed heed the Holy Father’s invitation to keep this Sabbath as a World Day of Prayer  for peace in the Middle East, we’ll also keep our plans to pray as well for fair and comprehensive immigration reform.   Our senate has already passed a good bill.  Perfect?  No.  A lot better than what we now have?  Yes!  And now we ask the Lord – - who has told us in the Bible that He has a soft spot in His heart for the immigrant and refugee – - to illuminate the House of Representatives so they can bring home the reform this autumn.

Three, we prepare for our vote in the mayoral primary next Tuesday.  We thank God for the generous spirit of our candidates in answering the call to public service, and we study the pressing issues so we can make an informed and enlightened vote.

Traditionally, we Americans consider not only issues, but character  when we vote.  While we hardly expect our candidates to be angels – - Lord knows none of us are! – - we do want them to be men and women of honor, integrity, principle, and, yes, virtue.

We Americans follow the political philosophy of thinkers such as Aristotle and Plato, mirrored in our own historically revered public servants, that politics is a noble vocation, that those who aspire to office can be expected to set a good example, to keep their word, their promises, their vows and oaths, and comport themselves with decency and propriety.  Yes, they do fail – - as do we religious leaders on occasion, I’m afraid – - but we still keep trying.

Recently, a mom asked “Who can our kids look up to?  Hollywood, athletes, entertainers, business leaders, clergy, and politicians are no longer good examples we can hold up for our children.”

That’s worrisome, isn’t it?  Jesus told His followers – - that’s us! – - that “I expect more out of you.”  Our guide is not what’s chic, pragmatic, “cool,” or popular, but what’s good, honorable, noble, decent, and virtuous.

The cynics claim “We deserve the leaders we get.”  Is it still possible to hope we get leaders whom we can hold up as examples for our children?

God bless and inspire our candidates!

God bless and guide us as we vote!       

Insights from Jim Klauser

September 3rd, 2013

I came across an insightful piece on WisOpinion.com written by Jim Klauser, Secretary of Administration under former Gov. Tommy Thompson and former Wisconsin chairman of the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. Klauser strongly believes that immigration reform should “protect and secure our borders while still allowing for the free movement of trade.”

Here is an excerpt from his op-ed:

First and foremost, we are a nation of immigrants. I am a first generation American; my parents and grandparents were immigrants. I am proud of my German-American ethnic background and what these immigrants accomplished. We must always ensure we have a welcoming immigration system that can attract and retain foreign talent, whether they are agricultural workers or skilled workers graduating from American universities. Our economy depends on an influx of foreign workers, and we must never deter this important facet of our population.

Unfortunately, our current immigration system is far too slow to respond to requests, fails to follow visa holders through expiration and turns away high and low skilled workers far too often. A temporary worker visa program will encourage the flow of labor in and out of our country and can be expedited to respond to spikes in industry demand or with agricultural seasons here in Wisconsin.

As for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in this country, it is simply not feasible to deport each and every one, nor desirable. Offering the ability to achieve earned legal status will encourage undocumented workers to come forward, pass a background check, pay a fine, and learn our language and culture. We should not offer these people amnesty; instead we can provide an accessible platform to earned legalization and become productive members of our society.

You can read his whole op-ed here.